Natural disasters can strike anywhere, without warning, and what they leave behind can be devastating. While we can’t stop these from happening, we can be ready.
Since the recent Hurricane Katrina disaster, emergency management is a top priority around the nation and in Kentucky.
Kentucky is prepared
The Department of Homeland Security is sponsoring an Exercise Evaluation Program in Kentucky. Several groups have joined forces to prepare, test, and evaluate an emergency management plan that will be implemented if a disaster were to occur in Kentucky.
As part of the program, each community has set up adequate shelters and the necessary equipment, and understands the right steps to take in an emergency. “Across the state, firefighters, EMTs, police, the American Red Cross, hospitals, health departments, and many others are all working with the emergency management teams to be properly trained and prepared,” says Karen Early, an emergency management training specialist at the University of Kentucky and part of the Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program.
Early says, “Kentucky is fortunate; we are prepared. There is a good group of people ready to assist. Kentucky is the only state where five community partners have come together to create a comprehensive plan.”
How do I prepare?
In Kentucky, the most common natural disasters include floods, tornadoes, thunderstorms, and winter weather.
Individuals and families should prepare for such circumstances by taking these simple steps: make a family disaster action plan, get basic emergency training, and assemble an emergency kit.
Making a family disaster plan is easy. Talk to your family about where to meet in case of an emergency. Plan evacuation routes in your home. Learn about emergency procedures at school or work. Practice. Prepare a list of emergency contact phone numbers, including family members, and local and national officials.
Basic emergency training can include taking first-aid and CPR classes. Your local American Red Cross, YMCA, or schools may offer these. Know how and when to call 911.
An emergency kit should contain items essential in any type of emergency, and everyone in the family should know where the kit is stored.
An emergency kit should contain enough supplies to last your family at least three days. Keep supplies in easy-to-carry containers and store kits where they can be reached easily in an emergency.
Kits should contain: battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, first-aid kit, bottled water, prescription medicine, baby food and care products, nonperishable food and snacks, and blankets. Include documents such as emergency plan, important family information, contact numbers, and extra forms of identification. Also consider adding: a sleeping bag, change of clothes, extra money, extra set of car keys, hygiene products, pet food, whistle, duct tape, plastic wrapping, scissors, and towels (for a shelter in place).
In case of a tornado
Grab your emergency kit and take shelter right away. The safest places are interior rooms on the lowest level of your home. In public places, look for signs that direct you toward predesignated shelter areas. Stay away from windows, doors, or outside walls. Get under something sturdy. Protect your head. Cover yourself with blankets if possible.
In case of a flood
Be alert. Get to high ground immediately. Do not try to walk, drive, or swim through floodwaters. If water rises over the road, abandon your vehicle and seek higher ground.
In case of thunderstorms
Stay inside. Unplug any unnecessary electrical devices.
Above all, don’t panic
Try to think clearly, pay attention, and act quickly. Being prepared will help you know exactly what to do. Listen to authorities. After a disaster, local officials and relief workers will be there to assist you—follow their instructions. By working together, we will all be prepared.